From May 27 to June 18, Sydney will reignite to celebrate the very best creativity and culture that the city has to offer. And with the music scene and other creative communities some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, there’s never been a better time to get out and support their comeback.
Whether you’re a cultural buff, a design nerd, or just chasing a good boogie, there’s something for everyone at this year’s festival. Below we’ve spotlighted just a few of the events that we’ll be eagerly zigzagging the city for.
Support live music
Live music is back! And it feels so right. Who better to kick things off than Australian music legend Paul Kelly who’ll be playing Vivid Live for the very first time. To celebrate the occasion he’s put together Time and Tide: Four Decades of Song, a once-in-a-lifetime career retrospective where he’ll be joined by special guest Gamilaraay singer-songwriter Thelma Plumm.
Also taking over the Opera House is Sampa The Great who’ll be debuting her highly anticipated new show An Afro Future, a huge night of music that both reckons with displacement and celebrates the culture of tomorrow.
After years of being locked out of the country, international artists are finally starting to make their way back to Australia. Music nerds will be ecstatic at the idea of seeing Berlin-based producer and composer Nils Frahm debut a never-before-heard set dubbed Music for Sydney.
And finally, Carriageworks (once we’re done with it) is set to host an incredible lineup of cutting-edge musicians throughout the festival. Estonian rapper Tommy Cash will no doubt perform a provocative must-see show, Japanese all female rock band Chai will rattle the roof, and queer icon Perfume Genius will surely leave the crowd in raptures.
A feast for the senses
The Vivid Sydney Dinner takes all of the best parts of Vivid – lights, music and ideas – and turns them into an unforgettable dining experience to celebrate the soul of the city. The inaugural dinner will take over Merivale’s Ivy Ballroom and transform it into a feast for the senses. On the menu is a New South Wales inspired feast developed by chefs Dan Hong and Mike Eggert which will go down a treat underneath a bespoke lighting experience.
Art is for everyone
At first glance Vivid Light might seem like a simple fun night out exploring the city, but look a little deeper and you’ll realise how important the program is to making art free, public and accessible. With over 25 Sydney-based artists commissioned for this year’s festival the lighting program will highlight and examine the multifaceted culture of Sydney.
Fittingly, a love letter to Sydney by Ken Done is at the heart of this year’s festival to celebrate the city that’s served as his long running muse. Nobody else captures the joy of Australia quite like Done, which will make viewing his vibrant animations projected onto Customs House a must.
Contemporary artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran will explore Sydney’s role as a global and multicultural city, questioning its plural histories. Known for his vibrant and rough-edged idols, Sri Lankan born Nithiyendran is constructing a giant piece called Earth Deities that’ll pulse with dramatic light and sound. Get ready for it to blow your mind and spirit.
As for the honour of lighting the sails of the Sydney Opera House, this year’s festival will celebrate Australia’s First Nations culture with an evocative new digital artwork. Yarrkalpa - Hunting Ground, 2021 by the Martu Artists and creative technologists Curiious, with soundtrack by Electric Fields and Martu Artists is a bold projection work inspired by an original piece developed by eight female artists of the Pilbara region in 2013. The work represents the Martu’s intimate connection with country, cataloguing seasons, traditional burning practices and regrowth, hunting and resources, as well as abstracted ancestral stories.